Holman Ranch: Grapes, Horses and Mountains, Oh My!



Holman Ranch


A welcoming sight to Holman Ranch.


A porch outside your guestroom provides a great opportunity to sit back, relax, and enjoy nature's lullaby as you rock yourself into peaceful contemplation


A peak out of your guestroom window reveals trees, rolling hills, and transient wildlife as your neighbors.


A look at the expansive main courtyard, waiting to host your next event


Some of the guest houses cradled among trees and peaceful landscape where the only noise is the sound of your own thoughts


There's no yellow brick road but this road leads to the vineyard entry where the doors swing wide like open arms welcoming you to the magic that lies just beyond


An exterior view into the main courtyard that says, "Hey, the party's in here!"


Looking from within at the open entrance to the vineyard, this is the gate to the kingdom


An outside view of the entrance and hacienda, the building tradition of which hearkens back to a bygone era


The carriage house offers a lovely venue for a reception or any event.


Fun and friendly Nick Elliott. A quick chat with him will reveal that for him and his wife, Hunter, Holman Ranch is a true labor of love that rings through in every detail


Expertly maintained grounds offer an alluring escape


Take a leisurely stroll along the grounds and lose yourself in the scenery, let your mind wander down paths you've long forgotten as you wander along the beautiful scenery


Exterior side view of the hacienda that drips with rustic charm


The green that leads to the platform where vows are exchanged and memories are made, could this be where you start the next chapter to your story?


The expansive hacienda offers enough sights and atmosphere to occupy your mind


The patio immediately outside the back of the hacienda beckons you to stay and recharge among incredible vistas and the calming sounds of nature


Looking back at the rear of the hacienda, it's easy to forget that you're in the 21st century


Vines thriving among the dramatic views of Carmel Valley where the distant mountain peaks seem close enough to touch


Some of the countless California Oaks, beautifully adorned with hanging Spanish moss add to the general vibe and peaceful energy of the grounds


Holman Ranch's sweetly weathered sign serves to remind you that this place is real


The oldest pool in Carmel Valley offers a cool respite on a hot day that you can wash down with some delicious wine. Who wouldn't love that?!


Nick expertly describes the fermentation process of wine not yet in its infancy.


Huge and beautiful solid redwood doors open into the "caves" where wine matures in naturally cool conditions


Vintner Greg Vita on the right and co-owner Nick Elliot on the left have a very "hands-on" style of maintaining the serenity of this ranch and producing wine easily representative of this jewel in the mountains


One of the many white-oak barrels used to age wine to perfection


Nick pouring some samples of some of the delicious wine produced at the ranch


Rows of vines offer the tantalizing promise of wines to come!


Pause along your stroll and let time stand still for a moment as your mind records a peaceful experience that you can carry away with you for use when the stresses of life start to weigh you down


The simple, natural, elegance of Holman Ranch shows in every corner. Picturesque scenes like this require no effort; they just seem to happen. Breathe in the fresh mountain air, feel the sunshine tingle your skin, and take a moment to create your own fairy tale.

Holman Road stretches like a snake before you as you travel up and up into the quiet hills and mountains of Carmel Valley that cradle Holman Ranch Vineyards & Winery. The horse stables and small pond that greet you upon entrance to the property serve as instant proof that the name does not belie what they do at Holman Ranch. They raise beautiful horses and grow grapes that produce delicious wine. Your short, leisurely, drive into Holman Ranch allows you to take in the grass-covered hills that gives them the soft appearance of a honey-colored cashmere. As the road reaches the crest of the hill you will find yourself conveniently deposited at the lovely and rustic guest houses that are ready to receive you. You’re sure to enjoy the soundtrack that accompanies your stay, courtesy of crickets, horses, and other animals that lend their voices & talents to the sweet/natural concerto.

The décor of the guest houses is in keeping with the ranch’s western history. If you’re road-weary, the porch in front of your room comes complete with solid-wood rocking chairs and tables that provide a front-row experience to the ballet of nature that happens all around you. There is really no better place to simply sit quietly and gather your thoughts. But that is certainly not all that Holman Ranch has to offer. The expertly manicured grounds and strong, mature, buildings practically greet you with open arms, inviting you to create some life-long memories. I was lucky enough to receive an introduction to the property and a history lesson from affable co-owner Nick Elliott. The pleasant stroll along the grounds revealed delight after delight as Nick described Holman Ranch’s methods and philosophy behind what they do. And what exactly is that philosophy? In a word, sustainability.

The buildings that make-up the grounds, and indeed character, of the ranch date back to the 1920’s. In fact, the ranch has hosted such famous names as Vincent Price, Charlie Chaplin, and several others from Hollywood’s “Golden Era.” So enamored by the ranch was Charlie Chaplin that he had his own room in the hacienda that is still there today. And if you want to know which room that is, just look for the door that has, “No one gets in to see the wizard no way no how” written on it. The lovely hacienda itself is multi-purpose. There is a game room, complete with pool table and VERY comfortable leather furniture. Exiting the game room you find yourself in an expansive courtyard that is absolutely perfect for celebrations and receptions, with plenty of room for dancing if you want to make that part of your night. Further along you enter another courtyard that is smaller than the first and leads into a Catholic chapel where weddings can be performed and behind which is a meeting room for corporate events.

Beyond the chapel you will find another entrance leading to Charlie’s room and another gathering room with ample furniture, tables, and a lovely wood-burning fireplace; all richly decorated with western statuary and paintings. And beyond THAT is a small patio area that leads to a little concrete stage which practically cries out to host an exchange of vows, all with the spectacular backdrop of the Santa Lucia Mountains that make up Carmel Valley. If you’re anything like me, you’ll find yourself repeatedly saying, “Wow!” to yourself over and over again. Our walk with Nick took us along a paved path that was lined with beautiful California Oaks; the hanging Spanish Moss sometimes give them something of a ghostly appearance. But don’t worry, the only thing that will haunt you are the amazing memories that you’ll take from this place.

Sustainability and reusability is something they take very seriously at Holman Ranch. During our tour, Nick recounted the story of the hacienda and how it was essentially in a state of disrepair when he and his wife, Hunter, took over ownership and management in 2004. A great portion of the original materials were reused in the hacienda’s restoration. So diligent were they in their efforts that 95% of the roof tiles are from the original construction. The decorative foot stones lining the floor of the smaller courtyard are actually from repurposed concrete from a previous structure that was demolished. Remember that small pond I mentioned earlier? Well that water isn’t just for show. They use it on the grounds for several purposes, unfortunately it was undergoing maintenance during my visit but it didn’t take away from any of the magic happening around me.

It’s easy to believe that they thought of everything at Holman Ranch. They use mostly natural methods to control pests and protect their grapes. The surrounding mountains host a very healthy population of white tail deer and they just looooove those wonderful grapes produced by Holman Ranch. But never fear, at Holman Ranch they don’t do anything that might be harmful or unpleasant to Bambi. Deer are kept away from the crops by tall fences. The ranch also participates in “predator farming.” Predator farming involves creating areas and structure that are welcoming to naturally-occurring predators such as bats, owls, and other raptors. And if you’re worried about invasive species there’s no need to be. There’s nobody hanging out at Holman Ranch who wouldn’t naturally be there anyway.

A hallmark of this lovely place is that they are certified organic by California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF). They are also certified by “Sustainability In Practice” (SIP) so you can enjoy your wine while enjoying a perfectly clear conscience ;). Let’s talk a little more about that wine, shall we? Vintner Greg Vita masterfully lends his more than 30 years of experience to the wines produced at Holman Ranch. And if you’re wondering what his favorite is, it’s Pino Noir. Greg and his team mature their wines in wine barrels made of French oak. Nick took us through the complex and time-consuming process of producing sweet wine that is easily a celebration in itself when you drink it. The ranch ages its wine in below-ground cellars that are kept cool using natural geo-thermal processes, no artificial refrigeration here. That goes a long way in maintaining their sustainability.

I was lucky enough to sample their Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. The chardonnay is crisp and refreshing and contains delicate notes of vanilla that are balanced out with a hearty “oakiness.” The pinot noir is full-bodied and has a wonderful buttery finish. You can certainly taste the fruit that will undoubtedly amaze your palate. Just be warned, whether you’re a fan of red or white, they both go down VERY EASILY. And there are plenty of places on property where you can enjoy your wine. You can rock away a pleasant evening on your porch, or maybe sit by the oldest pool in the county. Just make sure you bring your floaties, the pool goes down to nine feet at its deepest point.

You have other options if you are not staying at the ranch. You can enjoy the wine produced by Holman ranch at their two tasting rooms, there’s one at 19 E Carmel Valley Rd and the Jarmon Tasting Room is attached to Will’s Fargo Restaurant located at 16 W Carmel Valley Rd. The Jarmon Tasting Room, so named after Nick’s late mother-in-law, is an intimate venue that you’ll be very glad you visited. Will’s Fargo, also owned by Holman Ranch, boasts a mouthwatering menu expertly prepared by Chef Hector. Among the many delights I enjoyed there were: grilled swordfish, rack of lamb lollipops, , mashed sweet potatoes, crab cakes, watermelon salad, and several other dishes that REALLY tested my willpower…..especially when the dessert arrived….. If you are looking for a getaway wedding that is guaranteed to help you make the kinds of memories that last a lifetime then give Holman Ranch a look. And while you’re there make sure you make time for a little stroll. If you listen closely you can almost hear the hills whisper to you. At Holman Ranch you will be able to enjoy, be happy, and live a life that makes the world Mint Green With Envy. favicon_2

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